The YIVO Encylopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, released last week by Yale University Press, includes a 3,000 word entry on Lubavitch that traces the origins of the movement to its founder, Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812).
According to YIVO, the two-volume ($400.00) Encyclopedia is the first such reference resource that attempts to cover everything of historical and cultural significance relating to Jewish life in Eastern Europe beginning with the “earliest signs of Jews in Eastern Europe to the end of the 20th century.”
The entry on Lubavitch provides a synopsis of the movement’s trajectory as it relocated in different parts of Eastern Europe under the succession of its leaders, (a genealogical chart is included) until the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), of righteous memory. In keeping with the Encyclopedia’s geographic focus, the entry limits its discussion of Chabad’s activity of recent decades, to Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
Dr. Naftali Lowenthal, professor of Jewish Studies at University College London, authored the entry on Chabad, as he did for other encyclopedias of Jewish interest.
“At the millenium," he tells Lubavitch.com, "there was suddenly a flurry to get knowledge packaged, so there was an encyclopedia on Jewish secularization and one on Jewish modernization," for which Dr. Lowenthal was tapped to contribute entries on Chabad.
“So whether you are a yiddishist or a secularist or a Chasid or postmodernist . . .," he says, Chabad figures."